Last week, 17-year-old Jeremiah Emmanuel received a British Empire Medal. There are countless reasons why this recognition is unquestionably deserved, but on a personal level, I believe that Jeremiah is one of the most brave, motivated and kind-hearted people I’ve had the honour of meeting. I am beaming with pride.
I first met Jeremiah at WE Day UK in 2015. He asked to interview me about my views on youth empowerment, and I gladly obliged. At just 15, Jeremiah was so in tune with the pressing issues young people face, and was proactive in trying to tackle them – I felt that I had to get him on board with our work at Big Change.
Since then we’ve been fortunate to have Jeremiah take on a Youth Advisor role within Big Change – he is a valuable force to learn from. And it was great to see ex-gang leader turned Big Changer, Karl Lokko become Jeremiah’s mentor. Together they are inspiring agents of change.
As I said, there are so many reasons why Jeremiah is deserving of this accolade; not least his response to the tragic death of a friend, which he saw as a call to action to create change. At 13, he set up One Big Community, to help young people find solutions to violence in their communities. And if that wasn’t enough, he also runs a consultancy enterprise that advises organisations on issues relating to young people and diversity.
Jeremiah is a true inspiration; taking his own experiences and turning them into positive action. You should look him up, support the work he’s doing and send him your support. Congratulations Jeremiah – all of us at Big Change and Virgin Unite are so proud of you.